World’s Fastest Party Barge

RollingBarge.com has built a new style of party barge. As with all of our barges, this new style still floats on 55 gallon plastic drums, however it has an aluminum hull and aluminum sides. The idea is that as the barge accelerates, the bow lifts up and the water inside the bow drains out the stern. With enough propulsion, this new barge should plane and provide significantly higher speeds than the 5mph we see from our current barges.

The main part of the boat is 104 inches wide (8’ 8”). The above picture shows the bow and below shows the stern. In both pictures the boat is upside down.

The main hull is floated by a total of twenty-seven 55 gallon drums and two 30 gallon drums. This provides a total buoyancy of about 13,000lbs.

Above we are adding 1/8” thick aluminum plates to the bottom of the boat frame. This plates are held in place with ¼” aluminum drive rivets every 3”.

“Wings” are designed to bolt to each side of the main body of the barge. These wings are about 27’ long and about 40” wide. Each wing has twelve 55 gallon drums and one 30 gallon drum for a total buoyancy of about 5800lbs. The total buoyancy of all the drums in the barge is about 25,000lbs.

The wing bottoms and sides are skinned in the same 1/8” aluminum plate that is used on the main section of the barge. After the aluminum plate is attached, the barge sections are flipped right side up.

The deck is 5/8” marine plywood. It has a black vinyl backing on the bottom to separate the treated wood from the aluminum and a gray non-slip poly face on the top. The deck is attached with triple coated self-drilling, self-tapping steel screws. The deck is not only a walking surface, but provides significant structural integrity for the entire barge. The upper deck is attached to the main barge section. It is designed to telescope so that the total height can be reduced to 9’ 6”. It is also designed to be sturdy enough to allow the barge to picked up with a forklift from under the upper deck, even with twin 60HP outboards attached. The wings are decked the same as the main barge and then bolted to the main barge with top and bottom ½” bolts every 24”.

Built in the USA with pride!

The view from the stern. We can easily roll the barge around the shop with a floor jack under each end. The upper story is also decked in 5/8” marine plywood with black vinyl on the bottom, but the top is left bare to accommodate the carpet. Did I mention that it also flies? We lifted the barge up with our four ceiling hosts so we could set it on the trailer. With the barge on the trailer it is time to mount the outboard motors and the slide. Seams of deck are added to fill the gap between the wings and the main barge. Also, a stern wall is added to block the passengers from the noise of the motors. With all the gates in place, we are ready for our first test. At 15’ 2” wide, she’s a bit of a squeeze through our shop doors… One plane she generates almost no wake. Our maximum speed was 24mph with 11 pitch props and three people on board.

The gentleman on the right is Tullio Celano, the Naval Architect and Structural Engineer that helped design the barge. He was present for our maiden voyage and was very pleased with the look of our vessel. On our first tests we found that we could plane using 11 pitch props with three people on board. But any more people and she would not plane. Our biggest problem was that the props would cavitate at slow speeds and would not allow us to use more than about 50% throttle.

The motor shipped to us by Iguana was 5 inches shorter than our motor. We had temporarily adjusted the transom to makeup 4” of this difference, but that was not enough to eliminate the cavitation.

We then rebuilt the transom and extended the short motor. The result was that the long motor was lowered 2.25” and the short motor was now the same as the long motor. The top caviation plate on both motors is a good three inches below the hull.

At the recommendation of Dwayne, a mechanic at Iguana Watersports, we built some Cavitation Plate Extensions show above, but these only made the cavitation worse.

We removed the Cavitation Plate Extensions and tested with some 10 pitch propellers that are “cupped” which is supposed to reduce cavitation. The cavitation was reduced significantly, but the new top speed was only 8.2mph. We did not attach a tachometer, but it appeared to us that both motors were running at full rpm and the push with the 10 pitch props was just not quite enough to get us on plane. We tested with 10 people on board weighing a total of about 1450 lbs.

With this same load of 10 people we switched to two 11 pitch props that are not cupped. At speeds below 10mph these props still cavitated at anything above about 50% throttle, but they were enough to put the boat on plane and give us 21+mph with our 10 person (1450lb) load.

Our next step is to test with 11 pitch “cupped” props. We will keep you posted. PCK

Above the barge is moving about 7 or 8 mph. Below the barge is going about 22 mph. This picture is taken from the upper deck looking backwards with the barge going 22 mph.

Modular Floating Docks with Party Barge Attachment

Modular floating docks  are sometimes used to create floating docks that can not only be quickly installed and removed from the water, but also be equipped with an attached barge that can be used for part of the dock and also be detached to be used as a boat to cruise around the lake. The dock can be rolled down the beach and into the water or it can be launched at a public launch ramp and towed into place.

The sample system showed in the pictures below has three components: the Gangway, the Dock, and the Barge. The Gangway is suspended between the shore and the Dock. The Dock is a floating section that is permanently attached to the Gangway. The Barge is 16 feet long and 12 feet wide. It has the deck space of a 25 foot Pontoon Boat and is rated to carry 14 people. It has a 25 HP outboard motor that is driven by a tiller handle and has a maximum speed of about 4 miles per hour.

Down the highway this rolling barge is 8.5 feet wide with a 40 inch deck height that makes it very easy to tow. In May of 2008, this system was towed from Portland Oregon to Northern Michigan.

This is just one example of how a Rolling Barge can be used as a portable dock & barge system. They key is that the Dock, the Barge, or both have highway rated wheels that are permanently attached that allow the system to easily be towed directly out of the water. This makes the system easy to setup in the spring and take down in the fall.

On many lakes getting the permits to install or enlarge a dock can be time consuming. However, your dock can be registered as a U.S. Coast Guard approved boat which can often be legally moored along shorelines where a standard floating dock cannot (check local restrictions).

Our Rolling Docks are constructed from 6061-T6 structural aluminum. See our Engineering Reports page for information on the design and construction of all our Rolling Barges.

This application can be viewed in the showcase section of our website under Michigan Floating Docks

Deck Boat Used a Work Barge

An engineering and construction firm needed a deck boat to perform an installation on the Willamette River here in Oregon.  They came to Rolling Barge and asked us to convert one of our boat docksDeck Boats for Sale into a small work barge to perform the task.

They also needed us to actually assist them with the installation since they were not very comfortable driving a large converted dock up one of the west’s largest rivers.  So for a brief moment Rolling Barge was in the self-cleaning intake screen business.  We loaded over 2000 lbs of equipment and tools on the barge and drove it upstream about 1 mile. We used the 1000lb davit crane to set our base, our support piles, and our screen in place. This set-up worked very well for our type of in-water work, which consists of components that are too large to handle and a site that was inaccessible by crane (look at the cliff in the images below)  The barge worked great and there was lots of space on the deck for our tools.

work barge on a trailer

 

Portable Utility Barge
crane on a small work barge

equipment utility barge

 

Small River Barge

 

Inexpensive Work Barge

 

PWC Trailer that Floats

The very first project we did using floating barrels was back in 2005. We wanted a way to tow our atv’s and Personal Watercraft across large bodies of water. In our case it was the Columbia River, which acts as the border between the States of Washington and Oregon. Even though you could technically ride a PWC from one side to the other it is not advised, since the currents are quite strong in the river and it’s doesn’t help that it is also a major shipping lane. So we needed to construct something that we could use in this situation. What we came up with was the genesis of our Party Barge. The mini PWC Barge as we call them, is ideal for both fresh and salt water and provides a steady platform for carrying several pwc’s and/or atv’s. These small barges can also be used as work barges when needing a large surface and weight capacity for commercial equipment.